Pilferers divert neem-coated urea from farms to industries, CBI flummoxed
Earlier in 2015, the Prime Minister claimed that his government had tweaked the chemical composition of this essential fertiliser by coating it with neem and it was done in a way that rendered it useless for the industry owners.
Modi claimed that neem-coated fertilisers could not be used for anything but farming. “Selling neem-coated urea has been made compulsory for all fertiliser outlets in the country,” the Prime Minister had asserted. However, the CBI, to its utter shock, on March 26 unearthed a syndicate involved in diverting urea, meant for farmers, to industries. This is the first ever case of diversion of the neem-coated urea for industrial purpose. Speaking on the investigation, the CBI sources said: “Probe is still on. So, industries which are involved and their technology can only be revealed once the investigation is over.”
Sources in Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers told Millennium Post that the initiative of manufacturing neem-coated urea was to stop illegal diversion of essential fertilizers to industrial units. “However, if urea has really been diverted to industrial units for non-farming purpose then it could turn out to be a big jolt,” said the senior official. Asked how neem-coated urea could be used for non-agricultural purpose, the official said that technically it was possible, but for that another unit to remove the coatings would have to be set up, which was not a very cost efficient option. The senior official also confirmed that the ministry has asked the state government and IFFCO to come up with a detailed report on how urea diversion was still on.
The CBI on Saturday registered a case against the then senior officer In charge of Indian Farmers Fertilizers Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) State Office; then Field Officer Incharge (Trainee), Kerala State Cooperative Marketing Federation (Marketfed) and a Transport Contractor in Thrissur on charges of allegedly pilfering subsidised urea worth Rs 2.41 crore meant for farmers in Kerala. It was alleged that the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers was giving subsidy of around Rs 22,000 per metric ton(MT) of urea and after subsidy the farmers would get the same at the rate of Rs 5,250 per metric ton. The distribution of fertilizers to the farmers within the state is the responsibility of the concerned state government.
The CBI spokesperson said that the trio allegedly entered in a criminal conspiracy and diverted 1,096 metric ton of subsidised urea priced at Rs 5,250 per MT. “They also submitted bogus bills in the names of 31 cooperative societies in and around Trichur, showing the supply of urea to these societies without actually supplying the urea to them,” the official said.